John Carl Russell, 85, died peacefully, surrounded by family, on February 25th, 2020 after a valiant battle with cancer.
John was born on November 12th, 1934 in Pikeville, NC to The Reverend Leon and Alta (Stone) Russell. He spent his childhood in eastern North Carolina and graduated from Greenville High School. From a very early age he exhibited a keen sense of adventure (and a good dose of mischief which often prompted one of his favorite phrases, “Only the good die young.”). He graduated from Duke University in 1956 and earned his J.D. from Duke Law School in 1959. He was a diehard Duke fan and often donned a Blue Devils hat or a jacket or sweater with the iconic Duke “D” insignia.
Following law school, John moved to New York. His law practice there was international in scope, and he rose to partner in the firm then known as Anderson Russell Kill & Olick. As his business interests broadened, he took the helm of several companies before retiring as CEO of WP Stewart & Co Ltd in 2007. In retirement, he focused his energy on real estate development in the Abaco islands of the Bahamas and served as a trustee and board chair of the Lake Junaluska Assembly.
In addition to an illustrious career and many entrepreneurial ventures, John enjoyed cars, boating, deep sea fishing, golf, and Duke sports. He chose to live in close proximity to the water, whether in Bermuda, Connecticut, Lake Junaluska, NC (where the family has multi-generational ties), or his beloved Treasure Cay, Bahamas. He was never happier than when captaining his own ship, both literally and figuratively, and many in his life enjoyed going along for the ride. He loved ham biscuits, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and made a mean Brunswick Stew. If on a boat he preferred a pack or two of Nabs, and after 5 o’clock, a Dewar’s on the rocks.
John loved his boats, but he loved his wife, Pat, even more. Their 27 years together were filled with travel and friends and home renovation projects which they enjoyed creating together. The two were devoted to each other, and Pat lovingly cared for John during his illness.
In addition to Pat, John is survived by many friends and family members, including his sisters, Barbara Russell Hardin (Paul, deceased) and Martha Russell Gillikin (Robert, deceased), and three daughters, Elinor Russell Ball (John), Martha Russell Martin (Andy), and Barbara Russell (formerly Richardson). He was predeceased by his beloved son, John Leon (“Lee”) Russell. Along with his children from his first marriage, he loved Pat’s daughter, Denise Hayner, and her husband, Chris, as his own.
John was blessed to have 11 grandchildren whom he loved dearly (and who always knew to greet Papa with two kisses instead of one): Katie Pick (Ilan), Julie Sampson (Kyle), Andy Ball, Scott Ball, Russell Martin, Luke Martin, John Martin, Tessa Richardson, Lucy Richardson, Coral Russell, and Spencer Russell as well as 3 great granddaughters, Emmie Sampson, Layla Pick, and Sophie Pick (and baby boy Sampson, due in June).
A memorial service honoring John and celebrating his life will be held in the Lake Junaluska Memorial Chapel on Saturday, March 14th at 11:00 am. The family will receive friends following the service at Lake Junaluska Harrell Center. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Lake Junaluska Assembly, for the Lake Junaluska Annual Fund, PO Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745, or online at www.lakejunaluska.com.
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Lake Junaluska Annual Fund
PO Box 67, Lake Junaluska NC 28745